Anna Hope’s brilliant debut unfolds over the course of five
days, as three women must deal with the aftershocks of World War I and its impact
on the men in their lives.
London, 1920. The city prepares to observe the two-year
anniversary of Armistice Day with the burial of the unknown soldier. Many are
still haunted by the war: Hettie, a dance instructress, lives at home with her
mother and her brother, who is mute after his return from combat. One night
Hettie meets a wealthy, educated man and finds herself smitten with him. But
there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach.
Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange, through which
thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress.
Embittered by her own loss, she looks for solace in her adored brother, who has
not been the same since he returned from the front.
Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street,
convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband has withdrawn from
her. Then one day a young man appears at her door, seemingly with notions to
peddle, like hundreds of out-of-work veterans. But when he utters the name of
her son, Ada is jolted to the core.
The lives of these three women are braided together, their
stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and
the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting
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